Need a good keyword tool? Here are most of the popular options as of 2017 with my thoughts on each. From what I’ve seen, this is the most comprehensive guide on keyword tools by far. Google Keyword Planner The Google Keyword Planner is the source of keyword data for all programs on the market. It is the only source to tell you how much volume a keyword gets. If the data isn’t coming from Google, then it isn’t accurate. But the Keyword Planner falls short on the research part. It’s a hassle to use the interface for an extended period of time. And it’s not particularly easy to filter keywords, save keywords, or check competition for the keywords. Because of this, most experts don’t use the Keyword Planner directly very frequently, if at all. Third party tools are better at generating keyword ideas based on input. These third-party tools use the Keyword Planner to check search volume and CPC (cost-per-click), and the GKP suggestions are sometimes displayed in an easy-to-sort way, but that’s pretty much it. Think of GKP as a raw way to get search data but not the best tool to find good SEO keywords. Another reason people stay away from GKP: If it’s suggested by GKP, everyone knows about the keyword. It’s nearly impossible to find SEO “gems” with the suggested keyword results. You’re looking at the same stuff that a million other people have looked at unless you type in something creative. You need third party tools to get creative, then use the Keyword Planner to check if your creativity has resulted in anything worthwhile. Finally, experts stay away from GKP because recently, Google changed how search volume is displayed. For most accounts, you will now get a range of searches a term receives per month, not the exact amount - e.g. “1,000 - 10,000” instead of “5,900”. While a range might be OK for Adwords users, the difference between 1k and 10k searches per month is massive to a SEO guy like yourself. Some third party tools have been able to work around the “range limit” with special Adwords accounts to check true search volume. Google Trends Google Trends is a good way to generate keyword ideas that are hot right now. You can get insight into what is exploding in popularity. Most of the time, the keywords suggested will be too difficult to target with a new site, but you can generate new ideas for your existing sites and possibly catch onto a trend before it happens. I used Google Trends to latch onto Angry Birds right below it blew up in popularity. I ended up making tens of thousands of dollars from the site over the span of a year. I know someone else who saw the term “quadcopter” way back when and now earns quite a bit because “drones” are so popular. Overall, the main use of Google Trends is identifying new opportunities within any niches you have sites in. But, if you check it frequently and do your diligence, you may be able to find an upcoming trend that has very little search competition, and get a site up and ranking before it hits mainstream popularity. (That’s exactly what I did with Angry Birds. If I would have created a site when it hit mainstream popularity, I never would have been able to rank.) Appending Tools Appending your keyword idea with A-Z and running that through the autosuggest feature of different search engines is the easiest way to generate a long list of keywords of every type for any base search term. Uber Suggest, KeywordTool.io, Keyword Shitter Free tools like this will append A-Z and 1-9 and run that through Google’s keyword suggest API. Once you have a big list of keywords, you run that through the Google Keyword Tool and you now have a list of almost every keyword + corresponding volume within a niche. For example, if you put “pushups” into Uber Suggest, you get a LOT of ideas that relate to pushups. You can make a site about “pushups” and target each suggestion that has volume with separate posts/pages, or you can narrow down the niche and focus on just one of the “pushup” suggestions like “pushup equipment” as for main site topic. Scrapebox / Other Paid Tools Free tools like Uber Suggest run your keyword through Google. But you can do all of the other search engines to get more suggestions. For example, if you append A-Z and 1-9 and run it through Google, Yahoo, YouTube, and Amazon, you will probably get a broader scope of niche potential and more keyword suggestions than if you just ran it through Google. Scrapebox has the option to do this in the Keyword Scraper, and other tools such as SECockpit have the option too, though Scrapebox is the most comprehensive from what I’ve found. If you are exploring broad niches to start, make sure you use the engine that will return the most relevant results. For example, if you need e-commerce results, try Amazon, but not YouTube. Or just do them all. Special notes: Bing and Yahoo are good for general suggestions. They do not limit searches per IP, so you can generate tons of ideas with those two very quickly if you’re using Scrapebox. Overall I’ve found Yahoo to be slightly better than Bing. Google and YouTube will give you the most suggestions, but they limit searches per IP. If you try to scrape thousands at a time, you will eventually get limited (after 3,000 or so) and you will have to wait for a while for your IP to get unbanned. To get around this, get a few private proxies that allow you to scrape Google - I personally use NewIPNow.com. Load one private proxy into Scrapebox and check the box “Use Proxies” within the keyword scraper. Divide your list into segments of 1,800 keywords. When you finish the 1,800 run, load a different proxy into Scrapebox and then re-open the Keyword Scraper and do it again. If you cycle through a few private proxies when doing this you will never get limited, whereas you will get limited if you use just your home IP (it’s a pain in the ass to scrape YouTube or Google suggestions in bulk if you do not have any proxies). LongTailPro LTP used to be my favorite budget keyword research tool but it has gone down in quality. You will see LTP suggested a lot, but in my opinion there are better options out there. It used to be that you could pull volume for 10k keywords in about 10 minutes, then easily check the competition charts almost instantly by clicking on it. You can still do that, except the data is NOT LIVE (it’s pulled from Majestic, not GKP), which means you are not getting accurate data. You have to run any potential finds through GKP to confirm the data numbers, and most of the time the numbers are inaccurate. The interface of LTP also sort of sucks now and it’s hard to quickly read competition graphs. And while the number of searches you get appear to be high, you get unlimited in SECockpit for what you get for 50,000 in LTP. Overall, worse interface and much less useful data since the Cloud update. Not worth it IMO. Keysearch Keysearch is a newer tool but one that I have found to be very useful. Currently it is one of the cheapest ways to get live (current) search volume for dozens of keywords every day. The owner has a thread on BHW. It’s similar to the old LongTailPro. You search for a keyword and you get the search volume, the competitor chart, and the Google Trends historical volume for the term. You also get a list of terms to the right that can be used to delve deeper into any one search (they are pulled from GKP). But you can easily filter these keywords to find all of the potentially good ones from the big list of 800+ it suggests. There is also a “Quick Difficulty” option in Keysearch where you input a keyword and it pulls its historical search volume. You can do more of these searches per day because Keysearch does not have to query the GKP to grab your result. Search volume here may be inaccurate, because monthly volume changes over time. As of writing this the $27 p/m plan allows for 50 live searches (takes 2 credits) and 500 historical searches per day, which isn’t too bad if you’re doing targeted research. There’s also a $13 p/m plan which is great for newbies on a budget (half the allowance). Overall Keysearch is one of my favorite tools at the moment because of the affordability, the live search volume option and the quick competitor chart. I’d highly recommend Keysearch to any newbies who want to get started on keyword research but don’t want to spend an arm and a leg for the ability to do so. Grepwords Grepwords isn’t talked about very often but it’s a very useful tool if you know what you are doing. The guy who owns Grepwords queries Google for vast numbers of search terms, saves them to a database, and charges for access to the database with a few nifty tools to go along with it. As of writing the USA database is at 100,000,000 terms or so. The problem with Grepwords is that the data isn’t up-to-date from what I’ve found. This is what I know: I know that Grepwords claims to update data on a monthly basis, but since the Keyword Planner started displaying ranges instead of exact volumes, I find it hard to believe that the owner is still sticking to this. I have sent multiple emails asking for more information but I have never heard back. So Grepwords is good for querying search volume for steady, consistent search terms (such as “refrigerator” or “best sunglasses”), but it can be misleading and inaccurate with trendy terms or terms that fluctuate. Always double-check keywords that you find to have volume through Grepwords, because the live data may be lower than the historical data, and never discount keywords with low search volume if you are checking a trendier list because that low- or no-volume keyword on the Grepwords historical database might be brimming with activity in the current day. Three additional notes on Grepwords: Keyseach pulls its historical data from here. The volume checker sucks for bulk with the interface provided. If you put in a list of 100k it won’t be able to handle it and will stop and spit out just a few thousand. And if you put in a list of 1k it will probably only get a certain portion of them, like 400 or so. It never functions correctly. You need to hire a programmer to query the API if you want to use it for bulk past a few hundred at a time. There is a 2-week PayPal free trial that you can just cancel and renew for unlimited access. SECockpit SECockpit was recommended to me by someone on BHW and it is one of my favorite tools. You can enter a single keyword and get up to 10,000 suggestion results, or you can enter a list of 1,000 terms and get live search data for all of those terms. (You can have a maximum of six projects running at once, so you can input 6 terms, or you can check six 1,000-word lists.) The suggestion feature is fairly good, and the six 1,000-word lists appears to be the quickest way to check live volume since Google started displaying ranges instead of exact volumes. You can run 6,000 through every 30 minutes or so if you have the Agency plan. You can then click on any search term and see the competition chart like you can in Keysearch. SECockpit is like Keysearch on steroids, but it’s more expensive and slightly worse for determining competition because the charts are harder to absorb at a glance and the competition calculation is made for Adwords, not SEO. That being said, it does show some social info, which Keysearch lacks. Overall SECockpit is great, but expensive. You need the Agency plan to utilize its full capability, and that plan is $127/month. But you do get a 30-day money-back guarantee for your first month so you can see if it’s worth it for you. Support for SECockpit is quite good as well. Ahrefs Ahrefs is an advanced platform and it would take me a while to explain it in full. You can check out all of the features here: http://ahrefs.com IMO, Ahrefs is arguably the best comprehensive keyword research tool on the market. There are a few functions you can use to uncover some really good ones. But it’s more of an advanced tool. All I’ll say is that if you are already good at keyword research, start poking around with Ahrefs and you will be surprised at the sheer volume of keyword data they have. Make sure you verify keyword volume directly in GKP through Keysearch or another tool though, because the Ahrefs estimates are just estimates and sometimes not very accurate. Ahrefs has a free 2-week trial. SEMRush SEMRush is a widely-used tool, but I have only dabbled with it. From what I’ve found, you can pretty much do everything that any one of these keyword tools can do with SEMRush, including query the Google Keyword Planner for live results in bulk via API credits. Ahrefs and SEMRush are the two most comprehensive tools on this list by far. Like Ahrefs, SEMRush is also fairly expensive, though. It’s $100/month for the smallest plan, not including API credits. It’s one of the better tools for SEO guys who have client websites and/or large websites of their own. But frankly, for the smaller guys and people who don’t have clients, I have never found it to cater to us specifically. It’s great for big guys, and people with clients who need whitelabel stuff, and people who combine organic and paid search, but it’s expensive to use for just keyword research. I do not use it. I use Ahrefs for my comprehensive tool. BUT, it deserves a high spot on this list, because many professionals use SEMRush, and probably tons of people on BHW alone. You’ll find heaps of community discussion revolving around SEMRush and Ahrefs whereas you will find little to no community discussion revolving around tools like Keysearch and Grepwords. If you are a big SEO guy working on larger projects or projects for clients, check out SEMRush or Ahrefs first and see which one suits your needs best. Term Explorer Term Explorer is a pretty robust tool that has a lot of potential for PPC people. But it appears to be less helpful for SEO people. You can enter seed keywords and get massive generated lists of up to 90,000 keywords. The issue here is that you cannot enter your own seed keywords to get volume for - you are forced to get their recommendations. And their recommendations are good, but frankly you can get the same suggestions if you know what you’re doing by using a tool like SECockpit in addition to appending your keywords and gathering them like that manually. And I don’t believe the keyword volume displayed is live. Overall I think there are better tools for discovering new keywords - though the enhanced suggestion features may be interesting for expanding existing sites. I haven’t explored Term Explorer much so maybe someone can chime in. Market Samurai Market Samurai is fairly outdated. It’s extremely clunky. It doesn’t have any revolutionary features that are unique to it. Overall, there are better tools out there, but it’s worth a mention because it used to be one of the more popular keyword tools, and you will probably still see noobs regurgitating that it is the holy grail of keyword research. WordTracker WordTracker is an interesting keyword tool. It does not pull from Google, but rather a variety of other advertising networks that handle searches. Then, it displays a number that is recommended to be taken as a “relative number”, but not an actual number of searches. It’s an interesting concept for sure. I can’t say I’m particularly impressed with it, though. I’ve done some comparisons with it and the volume was rarely accurate, and sometimes it was way off, which did not help even in a broad sense. Ahrefs seems to be the most accurate volume estimator. It’s worth a mention because it’s a unique way to look at keywords. GWT / GA Last but not least, if you have a site that is receiving traffic, check Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics to find keywords you receive traffic or rank for already. It’s free and can’t hurt, though something like Ahrefs or SEMRush is preferred to me, because I don’t like inputting my sites into anything that’s Google-official. How To Use These Tools As a beginner, you might not know where the heck to start when trying to find a keyword or keyword(s). There are a few different ways to use the tools to get keywords you can target. Niche: Finding one decent-volume, low-competition keyword One way of approaching keyword research is aiming to find a single keyword with decent search volume, then building a site revolving around that search term. You probably won’t find much in terms of longtail search volume because the niche is so small, but the larger term will be easy to rank. For example, if you wanted to explore the paper niche, you might find one particular type of paper and create an entire website around that one specific type of paper. Your site would probably get the majority of its traffic from the base search term, such as A7 paper. But you probably wouldn’t get much aside from that - few people would use modifiers to find A7 paper results. But your homepage would get a lot. When you hear people referencing “niche sites”, they are usually talking about some form of this type of keyword research. Authority: Finding many low-competition, low-volume keywords The other way of approaching keyword research is aiming to find a broad niche with many keyword opportunities and lots of small, low-competition keywords within that niche. For example, if you wanted to explore the make money online niche, “make money online” would be the theme of your website, but you would probably never rank your main page for “make money online” because it is so competitive. Instead, you would find longtail “make money online” terms, such as “make money online with Neobux”, and write content relating to those terms, and try to rank them. Your homepage would get almost no organic traffic, but your individual pages would all get a little traffic once ranked, and that would add up to a lot of traffic. When you hear people referencing “authority sites”, they are usually talking about some form of this type of keyword research. Best Approach for Beginners I used to recommend niche sites for beginners, but these days, because of GKP limitations, it’s harder to find a good niche keyword if you don’t know what you’re doing. You’ll probably get discouraged trying to find a monetizable search term with 1,000+ monthly searches that doesn’t have competition. You have to use keyword tools in conjunction with your keyword wisdom these days to find anything good. So, for beginners, I’d recommend trying to find authority keywords - low-competition, and volume between 100 and 500 searches per month, because authority sites build on themselves, whereas niche sites rely heavily on offsite SEO. Everything you do to any individual page on your authority site will help every other page rank (assuming you structure it correctly). And, more importantly, you can afford to screw up trying to rank bad keywords if you start an authority site. As in, if you pick a bad keyword for a niche site and you realize it is bad only once you build the site and start building links, all of your effort is wasted. But with an authority site, you can afford to find 90% bad keywords at the start and still have something to show for it. Because the niches are so broad, you can continue doing keyword research and building content until you eventually have a slew of low-competition low-volume keywords ranking. From there, you can build authority sites more effectively in the future because you have gone through trial and error (while still having something to show for it), and with your keyword skills you might even be able to find obscure low-competition but decent-volume keywords that you can target with a niche site. My Favorites Keysearch Keysearch is my favorite for checking keywords quickly and getting decent suggestions immediately. It’s pretty-much-instant live data with all of the other data you need to see along with volume and CPC. SECockpit SECockpit is Keysearch but without the 50/day limitation. Beginners may find it slightly harder to analyze keywords with SECockpit because of the lack of SEO keyword difficulty score and the fact that it’s not color-coded. But it’s superior to Keysearch because of lack of limitations - though it does take longer to make quick searches, whereas Keysearch is nearly instant. Scrapebox Scrapebox is good for generating keyword lists with the suggest tool. Grepwords Grepwords is the best way to get a HUGE data list to comb through, assuming you use terms with static search volume, and you are willing to pay a few bucks for someone to create a good API scraper. Ahrefs Once you understand the basics, Ahrefs can take your keyword research to a whole new level. I believe SEMRush can as well, but I am more familiar with Ahrefs. Go check it out and grab a trial to see for yourself. Questions? Post below! I’ll reply to everyone.